Monday, February 8, 2010

Don't Let The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good.

One of the nice things about having so much weight to lose (and there are few) is that I have a bit of leeway to experiment and try different meal combinations and substitutions to see what I like and I can still lose weight. Since I haven't been drinking soda I have found it really hard to eat more than 2000 to 2500 calories a day, which is about 2000 calories fewer than my body is using to live at the moment. I mentioned in a previous post that I refuse to stop enjoying food. My goal is to establish a better relationship with food and finding healthful meals that I like will make eating healthy second nature.

Earlier last week I was really looking for something hearty that could stick to my ribs. I decided since I had bought 3 pounds of ground turkey to use for turkey burgers I would make some chili. Normally I make a pretty standard Texas Chili. No beans, no corn, just beef, some lamb, and sauce. The sauce did have veggies in it, but by the time the chili was finished I think it only qualified as a vegetable in the same way potatoes do. By substituting ground turkey for beef stew meat, adding some light red kidney beans to fill me up a bit quicker, and sauteing some green peppers before browning the turkey I got exactly what I was looking for. Better yet, even taking into account the bottle of beer I used to deglaze the pan, a nice bowl of chili lands at about 450 calories, and I have 6 servings to stretch into meals for a week.

I was able to determine the caloric bang for the buck on my chili with that same calorie counter app for my iPhone I mentioned last week. I can create a recipe by adding all of the ingredients, set the serving size, and I can then select my "30 minute Turkey Chili" anytime I eat it. It is great to not only be able to see the impact of each ingredient on the overall health of a dish, but to then not have to fuss over logging my meals in the future. It makes staying on track that much easier.

We Can Still Be Friends

A lot of people with weight issues talk about their relationship with food, as if food was a person. I don't quite know what to think about that mindset, but I know my relationship with food is a poor one. People have told me in the past that I shouldn't use food as a mood elevator, or in response to my emotions, but they say it without really knowing what it is like to have a compulsion to eat. When I get sad or depressed I don't think, "Hey, I should eat some candy. That will make me feel better!" It is not a conscious thing. Just like I confuse feeling full or thirsty with hunger, these feelings actually feel like hunger too. It can be a bit of a vicious cycle as well, because of course the food doesn't make me feel any better, often it does the opposite and I start over again.

This journey has helped this compulsive side of my diet in two ways. I was talking with my father about how I can appreciate positive emotions or experiences more now and negative emotions seem a bit easier to shake off. Before it would be a flash of positivity and then I would quickly subside to a median level while negative emotions seemed to stick with me. He offered that it was much better it was that I came to this decision organically and that I really want it now as opposed to previous diets I have been on. Making this decision and taking the steps I have has put me in control of a very large part of my life for the first time, and that is way better than feeling out of control.

The other factor in reigning in compulsive eating has been keeping track of what I eat. When I log each thing I eat as I eat it it forces me to think about it and make it a conscious decision to eat it. I can't just grab some chips or candy or soda and eat and drink until I look up and I've eaten a whole bag or a drunk a liter without even noticing. It is another factor in control. When I first thought about getting a calorie counter or doing a food diary I thought it would be constant judgment, but it is instant accountability, a backstop, and that is a big difference.

If you are still reading, thanks. I promised my friend Gwen a nice long entry to give her something to do at work. I'm off to reheat some chili.


  1. I'm really enjoying this blog. It's great to see anybody make concious decisions to improve their life on a daily basis. It's far easier at times to just go through the motions and stick with what we know, than to challenge ourselves. Especially when it seems that we have so much on our plate to begin with. As Thoreau said, "How can he remember well his ignorance, which his growth requires, who has so often to use his knowledge?"

    I'm also grateful for the personal insights. I am one of those people that doesn't know what it's like to have a compulsion to eat, so I appreciate the oppportunity to learn something from your perspective.

    Thanks again for sharing all of this. Keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to the next post.

  2. conscious, not concious. darn.

  3. I'm wondering if having a compulsion to eat runs in our family? Seriously.
    I wish we were closer - geographically.
    My mother would have adored the idea of me finally making the decision to get healthy with Stevie's son.
    *Keep sharing the recipes, please!